By Natalia Sucre, Instruction & Digital Services Librarian
What we eat is at once profoundly intimate, tied up with all sorts of cultural and personal associations, and deeply political, shaped by historical power dynamics. This political/personal nexus is why, as someone who has long worked with food justice groups in Brooklyn, I was both thrilled and a little apprehensive about facilitating a discussion on food justice for our October “Pizza & Conversation in the Library” session.
MCNY students, however, talked with ease on the many connections between food and in/justice. Leah Penniman’s essay “4 Not-So-Easy Ways to Dismantle Racism in the Food System,” a primer on taking food justice action, guided the conversation. Equally helpful was the “pizza,” this time, delicious organic wraps and salads (Manhattan) and fresh vegetable and chicken tacos from a restaurant that sources produce through a local community garden (the Bronx).
The Conversation This Time
Both conversations ranged broadly: How does our current system of commercial food production hurt the environment and reinforce economic inequality? How do we break down barriers to nutritious food options such as cost, food habits, and institutional and corporate practices? (Heal Food Alliance is a good start Penniman offers). The campus sessions dovetailed nicely: “Real food is medicine” one student stated forcibly in Manhattan, while a student in the Bronx shared her own experience of controlling diabetes through diet. (Find fascinating recent research on the topic through our MCNY library databases).
May the conversation continue and even spill into action! As an aid to both, MCNY library offers many more sources, such as Penniman’s recent Farming While Black. Check out the food justice book exhibit at the Manhattan MCNY library for other titles.